AMG GT R Porsche 911 GT3 Audi R8 Plus Spy­der

CAR (UK) - - Sports Car Giant Test -

LOOK OUT, it’s a GT3 911. As Roger Fed­erer is to Wim­ble­don, Porsche’s track-ready, road-mon­ster­ing take on the 911 tends to scoop Sports Car Gi­ant Test wins ev­ery time it turns up. In 2015 it was the GT3 RS, whose scream­ing flat-six this car essen­tially bor­rows. Last year the 911R, whose de­li­cious six-speed man­ual gear­box the new GT3 also bor­rows, came sec­ond to a very special McLaren. And now there’s this parts-bin GT3, set to steal hearts, cap­ture imag­i­na­tions and – if you can get on The List – do it for not re­ally all that much money, in this rar­efied com­pany at least.

Com­pared to the AMG GT R and the Audi, the Porsche’s en­gine is noth­ing special on cylin­der count or on power, but in re­al­ity it is ev­ery­thing special; free-revving, re­spon­sive like a flinch and pos­sess­ing of such a ridicu­lously amaz­ing noise you can’t help but wring it out ev­ery time the oil’s any­thing like warm enough. There’s a man­ual gear­box op­tion too this time around, though our test car has the slick, quick-shift­ing PDK – all the bet­ter for keep­ing your hands on the wheel and the car be­tween the walls.

AMG’s GT R – so good it bat­tled the 911 GT3 ear­lier in the year and didn’t lose – is an al­to­gether more con­vinc­ing ver­sion of Mercedes’ mis­un­der­stood sport­ster. In GT S form two years ago we were left baf­fled by its bulk if im­pressed by its brawn. The R adds yet more power, drama and noise but also brings a re­spon­sive­ness that sets the car free. It no longer feels like a cruiser in the wrong test, a wrestler out on the run­ning tracks. But does it feel like the best per­for­mance car of 2017?

And here largely be­cause it con­tains the best en­gine currently on sale in the world, Audi’s R8 Plus Spy­der V10. Bizarrely, the R8 in sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion form hasn’t yet made it into a Sports Car Gi­ant Test short­list. This one cruised it, helped no end by its won­drous en­gine and the un­de­ni­able truth that, what­ever the purists say, the R8 is an even more be­witch­ing car in Spy­der form than it is as a coupe. The prodi­giously tal­ented chas­sis and the way it en­cour­ages you to drive a snarling su­per­car like a Ford Fi­esta, that 40-valve V10 with its wildly thresh­ing valveg­ear, mes­meris­ing reach and glo­ri­ous mu­sic, the thing’s ad­dic­tive, ac­ces­si­ble bril­liance – all are en­hanced by not hav­ing a roof over your head.4

AMG’s GT R; a more con­vinc­ing ver­sion of Merc’s mis­un­der­stood sport­ster – so good it didn’t lose to the GT3 ear­lier in the year

GT3 and GT R live for track driv­ing; Audi R8 Spy­der lives for wan­ton sen­sory stim­u­la­tion

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